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Atlanta, 22 June 2016

Bon jour! I'm back from Europe. 

In Paris ("Reason, Science, & God"), guests outnumbered members. Many are studying the scriptures with the Parisian disciples. In Brussels ("The Bible: Myth or Reality?"), two more made decisions to become Christians. And the church truly felt like family. It's heartening to know that despite flooding, strikes, and terrorism, the gospel is still being proclaimed.

6 (and 666 and 888)

If 7 is the number of perfection (last week's newsletter), 6 is something less. (Of course mathematicians have a different view: 6 is a "perfect number," since 1 + 2 + 3 = 1 x 2 x 3.) Now while 6 is usually ordinary, it can also be the impostor that falls just short of perfection.

What about 666? In ancient times, letters represented numbers, and words had numerical values. (Here's a modern example: b = 2; a = 1; d = 4. Thus the number of "bad" is 7 -- the sum of the values of the 3 letters.) Although 666 is likely a gematria for Nero Caesar, here it's more than a coded name. As 3 is the divine number, 666 has the cheek to imitate perfection -- and to do so under the guise of "godliness."

The book of Revelation brought words of comfort to a church threatened with persecution that rained down on them when they refused to go along with emperor worship. Since Caesar was worshipped as a god, yet was only a pretender, 666 speaks of his true character: deceitful imitation of the divine. Vigilant Christians should not allow themselves to be taken in by him. (And that goes for us today, too!)

About 888
If 6 falls short, 8 goes the other way. It's somehow even better than perfection. The gematria for Jesus is 888. He rose on the 8th day (the day after the 7th, or the Sabbath), as early Christians observed. The triple 8 points to his deity. And 777 would be a beautiful number indeed (not just a sleek aircraft). 

Coming up

Next week we'll wrap up the Numbers series, starting with a look at 3. Then the next series will also be announced. (Hint: How are your Greek and Hebrew?)

Thanks for your interest and support. -- DAJ

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